“What is the big problem with Chantix?”

[widget id=”ad_unit-10″]ad_unit-10[/widget]Chantix is a pill made by Pfizer in 2006 to help smokers not want to smoke.

A study of 746 smokers  found that 56 percent of those who took Chantix for 12 weeks were cigarette-free during the last month of treatment. Compared with 43 percent who used the nicotine patches.

Bottom line: Chantix works AND it is better than the patch to quit smoking.

How Does Chantix Work? Chantix acts on brain receptors affected by nicotine. Chantix trips the receptors that tell your brain that it just had a cigarette.

Receptors are like switches that turn on and off. Chantix trips the “switch” so you feel the nicotine “buzz” you usually get from smoking without actually smoking.

Chantix blocks some of nicotine’s effects so that if you do smoke cigarettes won’t “work” and actually may taste bad to you. This is why Chantix is know as the wonder drug for quitting.

Bottom line: For most people who want to quit Chantix rocks!

In my own personal unofficial survey of doctors who prescribe Chantix: I learned that 70% or more of the patients who are prescribed Chantix quit smoking without any problems.

What happens if you can’t for some reason quit with Chantix? That is the problem – what to do with the 30 percent who CAN’T use Chantix to quit? There ARE other ways to quit.

Remember that any method INCLUDING quitting cold-turkey is going to have side effects. You and your doctor have to weigh each risk and come up with a solution that works best for you.

Sounds like a simplification, I know, but it is the truth. It can be done…and you can do it (if you choose).



14 Responses

  1. Hi there
    Firstly, isn’t it Champix?
    Secondly some pretty damaging studies have come out about this wonder drug. If it’s taken by people with weak hearts, it causes heart attacks.
    I suggest you update this blog.

  2. Hello Danni,

    It is Chantix or Champix. The drug’s generic name is varenicline. It is manufactured and marketed by Pfizer. Pfizer markets the drug under the name Chantix in the U.S. and Champix in Europe and Canada. I use both names in my blog but I can see where it may be confusing.

    Chantix did have a rocky beginning back in 2006. It was linked with suicides and moody behavior.

    Since then however the drug’s track record has been good. The manufacture’s have provided some warning statements and medical providers have watched their patients more carefully for the dangerous side-effects.

    I believe the drug to be safe if taken as directed and under the supervision of a trained professional.

    Reports of this drug causing heart attacks are not as numerous as the ones claiming the drug causing people to want to “kill themselves”.

    Thanks for the question.

  3. Dear Dr Howell, please stop telling people that this drug is safe. I took champix, as it is called over here, three weeks after stopping champix i started with nocturnal epilepsy. I have been researching the effects of champix on the brain. Iam not going to start going through it all with you, but just let me tell you from my findings, i have had to do a report for the British MHRA and the EMEA. Also i have Dr Berkley Philips the medical director of Pfizer looking into this with me as well. You see iam not the only person in england never mind the rest of the world who have got epilepsy after champix. Just look up varenicline link to nocturnal epilepsy.

    Kind Regards
    Samantha Dearnaley.

  4. I am sorry to disappoint you Ms Dearnaley but Chantix/Champix is safe. I did research the link between this drug and epilepsy and I have to say they evidence is inconclusive. There was one report where the patient was sleep deprived and on retroviral drugs for HIV (by the way retroviral drugs and sleep deprivation can cause convulsions by themselves) and the the patient just happens to be on Chantix for 12 weeks and he has ONE convulsion and so they blame it on Chantix (weak, weak, weak). Here is the a link to the article that I am referencing http://goo.gl/DRakH

    But let’s assume for argument sake that Chantix was the cause of this patient’s convulsions (which I do NOT believe to be the case). We must remember that this patient had one episode of convulsion followed by none after the drug was stopped (if you believe that Chantix was the cause). Well then one episode of convulsion does NOT constitute epilepsy. So all those other people who are having several convulsions after stopping Chantix will need to find another cause for their epilepsy.

    Here is another case for you to think about: Back in the early 1940s, before there was a polio vaccine, scientist where busy looking for the cause of polio. They did tons of statistical analysis and found the culprit: ICE CREAM. So people began recommending kids stop eating ice cream in order to avoid getting polio. Now we hear this and realize how ridiculous it sounds but that is what happens when you are too quick to assign blame before the evidence is clear.

    I know this is not going to probably change your mind Ms Dearnaley because it sounds like your mind is made up on this topic. I am just hoping to help those people who might be thinking of taking Chantix to stop smoking not to be turned against it. Because the truth is smoking is a million times more deadly and harmful than Chantix could ever dream to be, even if it was indeed a cause of epilepsy (which it is not).

  5. I’m consider taking Chantix. I’m concerned about the possibility of seizures. I’m 10 yrs post-op right temporal lobectomy for intractable seizures. I’m seizure-free for 9 yrs after have 2 seizures due to terrible problems with Topamax. Once I changed to Lamictal, no seizures. Might I have a greater risk than those who have not had epilepsy.

  6. Karen,

    In your case Chantix might not be the best option. You may do better if you try to quit smoking without medicationns. Especially since you run the risk of seizure with any possible medication that you take. A new medications may react with the other medications you are taking now and cause you problems.

    I still encourage you to continue trying to lose the smoking habit as it is very important for your health.

  7. Hi me again, firstly, i did have more than one seizure but only after champix. I have had experts from epilepsy research uk, looking at this and they say that once a siezure has been triggered, it can happen again at anytime, and also it can depend on how long the first seizure lasted for to what long term damage, your left with, i have not had a seizure now for 18 months. My first seizure after stopping champix lasted for 19 mins.

  8. Ms Dearnaley,

    I stand by what I said before. If you do not want to take Chantix/Champix then don’t, nobody should take a drug they don’t want to take.

    My mission is to help people quit smoking. So I encourage you to continue on your goal to be come smoke free. If there is anything I can do to help you achieve that goal please do not hesitate to ask me.

  9. Hi me again, just thought, i would let you know, my neurologist has now just put in writing,
    varenicline triggered my nocturnal epilepsy, by simulation of the same receptors that cause nocturnal
    epilepsy, just like i said, also Austrailia have asked for seizures and epilepsy to be put as a side effect.

  10. At least we agree on this, no Doctors are not gods, but neither are scientist who make Drugs. The fact is i have copies of every clinical trial every done on Champix, even the ones that did not get published, and the all have Gran-mal- seizures in them. Dont you think the public have a right to know all the side-effects no matter how rare before they take a Drug. That should be our human right. Look i admit that Champix does stop you smoking while you are on the tablet, but so does Nicotine patch, it just takes 14 weeks with the patch, but at least with the patch you do not risk, disease being triggered by them. Did you know that nicotine can be used as an anti-epileptic. Nicotine can also cause seizures but at very very high doses, you would have to have it injected for it to do that.
    Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor mutations cause (ADNFLE) Champix stimulates these same receptors.
    This info is on the Pub Med.gov US National libarary of Medicine.
    Test results on continued absinace, after 14 weeks, now remember Champix is a 12 week course.
    Varenicline (Champix ) 2mg a day 33.2 Patch 36.5 at 14 weeks.
    This trial shows, that the people on patch had higher still not smoking rate, at 14 weeks than Champix at 14 weeks. This shows to me that, within two weeks of coming off Champix, lots of people start smoking again,
    Iam not agaist people stopping smoking, iam against Champix being marketed as a wonder drug, when it clearly is not. It causes more harm than good in the long run. All iam saying is, people are ending up with long term problems from this Drug, not even the Doctors know what the pill, does, how it is made, or anything. This is a study from (Moore 2011) used by the FDA to assess the incidence of suicidal behaviour
    or depression. In 9575 case reports of Varenicline use, and 1751 case reports of burpropion use for smoking
    cessation. They concluded that Varenicline was linked to a steep increase in depression or self-injurious behaviours. Or (8.4 95% CI 6.4 TO 10.4) compared with NRT.
    The treatment discontinuation rate due to adverse reactions was 11.4% for Varenicline and 9.7% for placebo. Now lets give some info on epilepsy, over fifty different types of epilepsy, gos from day dreaming, to Gran-mal-convulsions. Iam not going to tell you all about these differant kinds, i dont need to, what i want to do is go through some of the side-effects list of Champix, and show you how just by putting different words you can, make a side-effect not sound quite as serious as it really could be. Somnolence, (drowsy)
    Hallucinations, psychosis, aggression, abnormal behviour, restlessness, tremor, nightmares, sleep disorders.
    All of the above can be a form of epilepsy.
    I have got a friend, whos husband has just been told he has parkinsons, he also started having seizures six days after stopping Champix. I would like you to look up Parkinsons, Alzheimers,Schizophrenia and ADNFLE epilepsy. And look at what receptor mutations you have, when you have any of these conditions, you will find that if you stimmulate the alpha4 beta2 and alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, in a person that has a mutation, anyone of these dieases, can be triggered even if you have shown no signs of the disease before. You would not know if you had this mutation untill it had been triggered then its too late, you already have the disease. Now if everyone was told that before being offered the Drug, how many people do you think would take the Drug over the patch. As a Doctor you take an orth to help people, not to start promoting Drugs that even you can not say for sure are not causing these problems when facts are coming out that it clearly does. Lets give some more facts this from Medmerits, you should know this site as Doctors use it to help them. REM sleep behavior disorder occurs mainly in patients with neurodegenenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson disease, and can be Drug- induced or occur on Drug withdrawl. Another point, if you know so much about smoking, how come you dont tell people that smoking causes degeneration of brain cells, so does old age, we can not stop this happening anyway, it starts from the moment your born. If you smoke or take drugs, it can just kill them off faster. Champix does the same by blocking receptors so they stop working, once you kill brain cells off you dont get them back.
    The safe way to come off any drug, is to wean yourself off slowly. As this is what the NRT does, i would say that sould be the safer option. Champix is not NRT it is a DNA copy of Cytisine, the first drug of this kind, in the world. Why dont we make DNA copies of humans because, you end up with mutations, frankinstines. The only differance, is they are making DNA copys of plant enzymes, when the Cytisine it self does the same without causing as many side-effects. Tabex is made from Cytisine, that is why, Varenicline is a cytisine anolog, by making a DNA copy they can tell the public that it is not the same, well tecnically its not, its more portant than cytisine. If you look up the plant, the Golden Rain Pfizer extract cytisine from the seeds not the leaves, i say this because seeds are more potant in strength than the leaves. It is well known that the ww1 soilders and american indians use to chew the leaves of this plant to give them the same effects as nicotine, but even then in some too much caused covulsions or death. This same plant is one of the biggest killers of horses and children worldwide. So now everyone knows this, what would you choose NRT patch or Champix.
    Samantha Dearnaley.

  11. Samantha,
    Were you successful quiting smoking w/ Champix?
    It interesting that your seizures occurred after stopping the medication. I believe that is considered a withdrawal side effect. Withdrawal from anti-depressants (SSRI/SSNI) and other controlled substances can also lead to seizures.
    Might it be possible that you abruptly stopped the medication?
    I’m not a doctor, but I have more than a casual knowledge of epilepsy as both a patient and an epilepsy educator.
    Dr. Howell is absolutely correct that sleep deprivation can cause seizures. One seizure in itself would not be diagnosed as epilepsy.
    Since one of the many side effects of Chantix/Champix is insomnia, might you have been experiencing this both during and after taking the medication?
    I’m curious to know how long after you stopped the medication did the seizure occur?
    PS Dr. Howell wisely advised me not to take Chantix, due to my medical history. I’m sure my epileptologist would agree with him, if I’d consulted him.

  12. Here are the most common side effects of Chantix /Champix (varenicline) (in order of frequency): Nausea, Insomnia/sleep disturbance, Abnormal dreams, Headache, Constipation, Vomiting, Dizziness, Abdominal discomfort, Fatigue, and Flatulence.

    Here are the most common side effects of using the nicotine patch (in order of frequency): Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, abdominal pain, dry mouth, sleep disturbance, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pain. Additionally nicotine patches commonly results in smoking relapse or unsuccessful quit attempts.

    All of these side effects are temporary and usually resolve after stopping the medications.

    Of all quit smoking drugs available bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) is the most commonly associated with seizures.

    Can varenicline cause convulsions in rare cases? Yes. Can nicotine patches cause convulsions in rare cases? Yes.

    What’s my point? All drugs have side effects that is the reality of taking medications. Most common side effects are common (that is why they are common). If you want to quit smoking and are considering taking Chantix. Then talk with your doctor and get a prescription. Chantix has helped many people quit without any problems. If you want to quit smoking what is the absolute safest way to quit? Cold turkey. Whyquit.com advocates quitting cold-turkey. A lot of people however need a little help and for them there are other ways and Chantix is a safe alternative.

  13. Hi Karen, the answer to your question, is yes i did stop smoking, within two weeks of taking Champix. It is from withdrawl that i started having seizures, i had two seizures within 30 days of stopping Champix. They only said i had epilepsy, as i had more than one seizure. The genetic link i talk about, was only connected to Champix in march 2012. I have studied this for years now, i have a friend who has taken Champix twice, but as soon as he stopped the drug he was smoking again within days. It would be great, if you could take this drug everyday but it is to toxic to do that. If you would like my opinion, i know more people who stop on the patch than Champix. My friend who took it twice, has stopped smoking on the patch for over 12 months now.
    I know more people who have quit with Acupunture, they just put a stich in your ear and when you want a cig you you press on the stich and it takes the craving away. The thing is smoking is a habit, you have to break the habbit. Change your behaviour, when you want a cig, go for a walk anything to take your mind of it, i promise it works, nicotine leaves your system in five days, if you can get through them the battles half won, after that its mind over matter. What i do is i will give myself one cig for the day, i will have two puffs and put it out, them really iam only smoking one cig a day. I find getting a cigar is good for giving up, as it gives you a real kick to the back of your throut, and you just get sick of your throut being sore, and by this your brain starts to think, different the enjoyment of smoking no longer becomes a joy, it makes your throut sore and makes you cough. You know yourself if you change a pleasant experiance into an unpleasant one you will not want to do it anymore. Anyway my opinion on Champix is, only take it if you are on deaths door, like have lung cancer or somthing, and it might give you a bit longer to live, then it might be worth the risk.
    Meditation, yoga, taking time for yourself and trying to eliminate stress, try giving up on holiday or somthing.
    Oh and dont drink coffee, really makes me want a cig. Did you know it is harder to give up heroin than the methadone the Doctors give as a help treatment, it only takes three days for heroin to come out of your system, that is true i know lots of addicts that have ended up clean for good after cold turkey, but the ones i know on methadone, never get clean, as they cant take the withdrawl of the methadone. You need to, make little bags of fruit up to take out with you, things like water melon, as when your mouth gets dry from stopping smoking, it wets your mouth and you can eat as much as you like, as its fat free. Another thing i find good is a rainforest berry, named Acui it helps as a food supplument, antioxidant, and lowers your colesterol, all natural. Anyway dont know if i have been able to help you there but thats how i stop smoking, but the problem with me is i do enjoy the odd cig. But i have had chest xray and i must have good genes, as my lungs are like a non smoker. But everyone is differant, i think doctors would be better off, sending people to like a health spar for a couple of weeks, with no smoking allowed, that would work better, everytime iam in hospital i dont smoke, because you cant, and you cant buy them, therefore you cant smoke even if you wanted, but that never bothers me, i just eat more, but then if i want to lose weight you just have to exercise.
    The fact is everyone wants it all, they want to give things up with no side-effects, i think no pain no gain, if you tell a child not do somthing and they still do, and then you dont punish them, want would happen, they would stop listening to you. Thats human nature, champix does this in a way, as it stops you smoking, when your on it and you thik great i dont want a cig. But when you stop the drug, you start wanting one again, so it comes down to willpower, so whats the point, why cant you do it from the beginning with will power.

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